Skip to main content

Full text of "Capitalism and the Corporate State"

See other formats

Capitalism and the Corporate State 

by Benito Mussolini 
(November, 1933) 

Is this crisis which has afflicted us for four years a crisis in the 
system or of the system? This is a serious question. I answer: The crisis 
has so deeply penetrated the system that it has become a crisis of the 
system. It is no longer an ailment; it is a constitutional disease. 

Today we are able to say that the method of capitalistic production 
is vanquished, and with it the theory of economic liberalism which has 
illustrated and excused it. I want to outline in a general way the history 
of capitalism in the last century, which may be called the capitalistic 
century. But first of all, what is capitalism? 

Capitalism is ... a method of industrial production. To employ the 
most comprehensive definition: Capitalism is a method of mass 
production for mass consumption, financed en masse by the emission 
of private, national and international capital. Capitalism is therefore 
industrial and has not had in the field of agriculture any manifestation 
of great bearing. 

I would mark in the history of capitalism three periods: the 
dynamic period, the static period and the period of decline. 

The dynamic period was that from 1830 to 1870. It coincided with 
the introduction of weaving by machinery and with the appearance of 
the locomotive. Manufacturing, the typical manifestation of industrial 
capitalism, expanded. This was the epoch of great expansion and hence 
of the law of free competition ; the struggle of all against all had full 

In this period there were crises, but they were cyclical crises, 
neither long nor universal. Capitalism still had such vitality and such 
power of recovery that it could brilliantly prevail. 

There were also wars. They cannot be compared with the World 
War. They were brief. Even the War of 1870, with its tragic days at 
Sedan, took no more than a couple of seasons. 

During the forty years of the dynamic period the State was 
watching; it was remote, and the theorists of liberalism could say: 
"You, the State, have a single duty. It is to see to it that your 
administration does not in the least turn toward the economic sector. 
The better you govern the less you will occupy yourself with the 
problems of the economic realm." We find, therefore, that economy in 
all its forms was limited only by the penal and commercial codes. 

But after 1870, this epoch underwent a change. There was no 

longer the struggle for life, free competition, the selection of the 
strongest. There became manifest the first symptoms of the fatigue and 
the devolution of the capitalistic method. There began to be 
agreements, syndicates, corporations, trusts. One may say that there 
was not a sector of economic life in the countries of Europe and 
America where these forces which characterize capitalism did not 

What was the result? The end of free competition. Restricted as to 
its borders, capitalistic enterprise found that, rather than fight, it was 
better to concede, to ally, to unite by dividing the markets and sharing 
the profits. The very law of demand and supply was now no longer a 
dogma, because through the combines and the trusts it was possible to 
control demand and supply. 

Finally, this capitalistic economy, unified, "trustified," turned 
toward the State. What inspired it to do so? Tariff protection. 

Liberalism, which is nothing but a wider form of the doctrine of 
economic liberalism, received a death blow. The nation which, from 
the first, raised almost insurmountable trade barriers was the United 
States, but today even England has renounced all that seemed 
traditional in her political, economic and moral life, and has 
surrendered herself to a constantly increasing protectionism. 

After the World War, and because of it, capitalistic enterprise 
became inflated. Enterprises grew in size from millions to billions. 
Seen from a distance, this vertical sweep of things appeared as 
something monstrous, babel-like. Once, the spirit had dominated the 
material; now it was the material which bent and joined the spirit. 
Whatever had been physiological was now pathological; all became 

At this stage, super-capitalism draws its inspiration and its 
justification from this Utopian theory: the theory of unlimited 
consumers. The ideal of super-capitalism would be the standardization 
of the human race from the cradle to the coffin. Super-capitalism would 
have all men born of the same length, so that all cradles could be 
standardized; it would have babies divert themselves with the same 
playthings, men clothed according to the same pattern, all reading the 
same book and having the same taste for the movies — in other words, it 
would have everybody desiring a single utilitarian machine. This is in 
the logic of things, because only in this way can super-capitalism do 
what it wishes. 

When does capitalistic enterprise cease to be an economic factor? 
When its size compels it to be a social factor. And that, precisely, is the 
moment when capitalistic enterprise, finding itself in difficulty, throws 

itself into the very arms of the State; It is the moment when the 
intervention of the State begins, rendering itself ever more necessary. 

We are at this point: that, if in all the nations of Europe the State 
were to go to sleep for twenty-four hours, such an interval would be 
sufficient to cause a disaster. Now, there is no economic field in which 
the State is not called upon to intervene. Were we to surrender — just as 
a matter of hypothesis — to this capitalism of the eleventh hour, we 
should arrive at State capitalism, which is nothing but State socialism 

This is the crisis of the capitalist system, taken in its universal 
significance. . . . 

Last evening I presented an order in which I defined the new 
corporation system as we understand it and wish to make it. 

I should like to fix your attention on what was called the object: the 
well-being of the Italian people. It is necessary that, at a certain time, 
these institutions, which we have created, be judged and measured 
directly by the masses as instruments through which these masses may 
improve their standard of living. Some day the worker, the tiller of the 
soil, will say to himself and to others: "If today I am better off 
practically, I owe it to the institutions which the Fascist revolution has 

We want the Italian workers, those who are interested in their status 
as Italians, as workers, as Fascists, to feel that we have not created 
institutions solely to give form to our doctrinal schemes, but in order, at 
a certain moment, to give positive, concrete, practical and tangible 

Our State is not an absolute State. Still less is it an absolutory State, 
remote from men and armed only with inflexible laws, as laws ought to 
be. Our State is one organic, human State which wishes to adhere to the 
realities of life. . . . 

Today we bury economic liberalism. The corporation plays on the 
economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the 
political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that 
comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a 

Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new 
synthesis is created. It is a symptomatic fact that the decadence of 
capitalism coincides with the decadence of socialism. All the Socialist 
parties of Europe are in fragments. 

Evidently the two phenomena — I will not say conditions — present 
a point of view which is strictly logical: there is between them a 
historical parallel. Corporative economy arises at the historic moment 

when both the militant phenomena, capitalism and socialism, have 
already given all that they could give. From one and from the other we 
inherit what they have of vitality 

We have rejected the theory of the economic man, the Liberal 
theory, and we are, at the same time, emancipated from what we have 
heard said about work being a business. The economic man does not 
exist; the integral man, who is political, who is economic, who is 
religious, who is holy, who is combative, does exist. 

Today we take again a decisive step on the road of the revolution. 

Let us ask a final question: Can corporationism be applied to other 
countries? We are obliged to ask this question because it will be asked 
in all countries where people are studying and trying to understand us. 
There is no doubt that, given the general crisis of capitalism, 
corporative solutions can be applied anywhere. But in order to make 
corporationism full and complete, integral, revolutionary, certain 
conditions are required. 

There must be a single party through which, aside from economic 
discipline, enters into action also political discipline, which shall serve 
as a chain to bind the opposing factions together, and a common faith. 

But this is not enough. There must be the supremacy of the State, 
so that the State may absorb, transform and embody all the energy, all 
the interests, all the hopes of a people. 

Still, not enough. The third and last and the most important 
condition is that there must be lived a period of the highest ideal 

We are now living in this period of high, ideal tension. It is because 
step by step we give force and consistency to all our acts; we translate 
in part all our doctrine. How can we deny that this, our Fascista, is a 
period of exalted, ideal tension? 

No one can deny it. This is the time in which arms are crowned 
with victory. Institutions are remade, the land is redeemed, cities are